Putting a photo on a T-shirt

For many years, many fathers have been getting T-shirts that say “World’s Greatest Dad." Personalizing T-shirts is nothing new, but now you can do it all yourself. These days, the pictures you want to wear are probably on your computer. Using digital photos, you can print a favorite photo on a transfer sheet and iron it on a T-shirt.

What you'll need

You'll need the following items to put a photo on a T-shirt:

  • A computer running Windows Vista

  • Photo management and editing software, such as Windows Live Photo Gallery

  • Color inkjet printer

  • Digital photo (stored on your computer)

  • Cotton T-shirt

  • Iron-on transfer paper

  • An iron and a flat surface where you can iron the shirt

Select, edit, and flip your photo

Before you transfer your digital photo to a T-shirt, you'll need to select the photo, make sure it looks the way you want it, and then get it ready for printing.


The first thing you need to do is select your photo. This is the fun part, especially if you're creating a gift for someone whom you want to have a laugh when they see the T-shirt. Since your photo needs to fit on a T-shirt, you want the picture to be sharp. The texture of the T-shirt might soften the image—as will the laundry. You can either take a new photo or use Windows Live Photo Gallery to choose one that’s already on your computer.


Once you've selected your photo, you might want to do some photo editing, such as brightening the image, removing red eye, or enhancing the photo to balance color. For more information about editing photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery, see Editing photos with Windows Live Photo Gallery.


To get the image to appear the right way when you iron it on your T-shirt, you need to print a reverse image. This means that you have to flip your photo horizontally (unless you want the picture on the t-shirt to be "backwards" from the original). Here's how to flip a photo using Windows Live Photo Gallery and Paint:

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, click Windows Live Photo Gallery, and then double-click the photo you want to open.
  2. Click the Open menu, and then click Paint.

  3. When the photo opens in Paint, click the Image menu, and then click Flip/Rotate.

  4. Click Flip horizontal, and then click OK.

  5. Save the file with a new file name, such as nameofpicture_flipped.

For more information about using Paint, see Using Paint.

Print your photo

Now you're ready to print your photo on iron-on transfer paper. You can usually find iron-on transfer paper at an office supply store. Or, you can buy it online—search the web for “iron-on transfer paper.” This special paper does just what it sounds like it does: It lets you print your picture on it and then iron the picture onto your T-shirt. Most transfer sheets work in most color printers.

Before printing, check the paper box for instructions about which side of the transfer sheet you should print on. Insert the paper in your printer so that it prints on the correct side. Also, check the paper manufacturer’s instructions about printing. You might be able to select the paper type, such as photo paper or something similar. Selecting one of these options tells the printer how best to print the image to the special transfer paper. In general, choose an option that indicates photo-quality paper or the closest to it that your printer allows.

When your paper is inserted in the printer correctly, print the photo. For more information about printing a photo from your computer, see Working with digital pictures.

Iron it on your shirt

You won't find an iron on Windows Marketplace, so look in your laundry room, closet, or elsewhere around the house. Follow the ironing instructions that came with the transfer paper. You can trim away some of the excess border if you want to—literally crop the pictures with your scissors—to make the transfer sheet area smaller.

Before you peel away the transfer sheet backing, you’ll probably need to wait for the paper to cool. When it does, carefully peel the paper away, and there it is—your photo is on the shirt!

Wear it well

You or whomever you give it to will now be the proud wearer of the photo T-shirt. Now, why not print photo T-shirts for a birthday party, or get a graduation picture of your classmates and print it on T-shirts for a class reunion. And don't forget, you can still print a photo T-shirt just for your dear old dad.